Patient Acquisition And Retention? Are They Different? What is Patient Acquisition? How is it Different Than Patient Retention?
Common question asked by doctors: Which one is more difficult? Patient acquisition vs. patient retention
Building and maintaining a patient count at your medical clinic requires great patient acquisition and patient retention strategies. Many doctors are curious about which one is harder, acquisition, or retention? You can’t have patient retention without patient acquisition, and you can’t have a viable long term business without patient retention. Before you can figure out which one is harder, you should have a marketing plan in place that addresses both patient acquisition and patient retention.
New competitors are always emerging for your medical practice
A potential patient often has several choices when they are making a health care decision. Your competitors today may not be your competitors next year, and your future competitors may even be a business that is not even organized and running. The point is, your current and potential patients will always have choices in front of them. Not only do you need to be the best choice when they are first making a healthcare decision but continue to be the best choice when they are exposed to your competitors. Fortunately, many of the things you would use to acquire patients can be used to retain them: Good reviews, reminders of services you offer, follow-ups by your staff, and personalized service are just a few things that many patients look for when choosing a health care provider and often cite as a reason for staying with them.
Retaining patients offers great return on investment (ROI)
If you retain a patient, it drives the profitability of that patient. They will bring you more revenue over time, making the resources you put into acquiring and maintaining that patient even more useful. It is much more cost-effective to retain a patient than it is to acquire a new one. Studies have also shown that the higher retention rate you maintain, you will also see a more significant increase in your overall profit.
Acquiring patient loyalty, however, is becoming harder with more choices available to patients. With so much information online, many patients can easily research their options if they become unhappy with the services they receive. Switching to a different provider is more manageable now than it used to be, and younger patients are much more likely to change than older patients. Providing top-quality care is key to retaining these patients as well as showing them other valuable services you offer.
Results must be trackable
In order to make the best medical marketing decisions, you need to be able to track how much you are spending to acquire new patients, as well as the amount you are paying to retain them. Monitoring a patient journey and the campaigns they are exposed to is critical to help you determine what is working and what is not. Acquiring patients is usually very straightforward in trying to figure out how much you spend on each one to bring them into the clinic. Without proper tracking and analytics, it may be more challenging to determine the long term costs of patient retention.
Which one is harder? Patient acquisition or patient retention?
More often than not, patient retention is more difficult than patient acquisition. When it comes to patient acquisition, your marketing efforts are aimed to give the patient enough information and motivation to go to your clinic for service. This marketing is highlighting the best parts of your medical practice and makes a compelling argument for someone to make a choice. Marketing for patient acquisition is refined over time, and eventually, a medical practice has a well-oiled marketing machine to help bring in new patients and push brand awareness.
Patient retention, however, depends not only on marketing to bring them back to your medical practice but also on the performance of your staff. The promises you make in your medical marketing needs to be backed up with the actual results from your team. If the services a patient receives at your business do not match the marketing materials they were exposed to, it will be challenging to secure their loyalty to the point where they will return for another visit. However, if the services you have at your healthcare business go above and beyond what a patient was expecting, patient retention will be easier to accomplish. Patient retention is harder because it is a joint effort by those marketing your medical practice and those actually treating patients. If the two are out of sync or not quite complimenting each other, building a loyal patient base will be very difficult.
Should more attention be paid to Patient Acquisition or Patient Retention?
In a perfect world, both of these elements should receive equal amounts of attention. However, in reality, you should probably pay attention to Patient Acquisition first before moving on to Patient Retention. If you have a top-notch patient retention plan, it isn’t going to be very useful if there are no patients to feed into it. Once you determine you have an excellent plan to get patients through the front door, then you can concentrate on how to get them to come back again and again. Both aspects, acquisition and retention, need to be maintained and adjusted as new competitors enter your market and compete with you. When someone new begins to compete for your patients, you would be wise to examine their efforts and see what exactly they are doing to acquire and retain their patients. Their strategy may expose a flaw in your efforts or, you might see something you want to apply to your marketing tactics. There is nothing wrong with lifting a good idea from somewhere else if it works for you!
Overall, patient acquisition and patient retention are going to be vital parts of your medical marketing strategy. Both operated somewhat independently of each other, but also have some powerful connections to one another. Weak patient retention puts a lot of pressure on patient acquisition to maintain a patient count. A inferior patient acquisition makes patient retention not very cost-effective. Once the two are in sync, they can be an influential factor to drive profitability to your medical clinic. The experts at PatientGain.com have the right tools you need to grow your business and patient count through proven methods of patient acquisition and patient retention.
How Much Do Doctors Spend On Advertising in USA?
Range is $600 per month to $15000 per month, depending on specialty and competition.
The actual advertising budget for each clinic and practice is different. Some clinics/doctors are very aggressive and spend $1000 per day (or more) and some spend $1000 a month on advertising. We also have few clinics/doctors who do not spend any money on online advertising, they doctors rely on referrals and very strong SEO rankings. This data refers to online advertising, not offline advertising spend.
Also you have to understand that every practice area is different. For example let’s review specific specialties:
Medspa and aesthetic practices
For Medical Spas and Aesthetic practices, it is highly recommended to have online advertising budget. The typical range is $3000 to $10000 per month, with average budget of $4210 per practice in USA.
Plastic surgeons need online advertising, more than any other category. It is next to impossible to be successful without proper online advertising budget. The typical range is $5000 to $15000 per month, with average budget of $6677 per practice in USA.
The typical range is $1000 to $4000 per month, spend on average spend $1960 per month per location. However these are “average” locations with medium competition. If a dermatology is also focused on cosmetic procedures, their budgets are more like Medical Spas and aesthetic clinics.
Urgent care centers
The typical range is $1000 to $9000 per month, spend on average spend $3600 per month per location. However these are “average” locations with medium competition. There are many factors, number of exam rooms and how many providers, and fixed overhead also dictates how aggressive each owner is. Brands and chains spend more on advertising than stand alone locations. We have also noticed if the owner is a doctor/physician, vs a business person, doctor/physician owners will have a hard time understanding value of advertising. doctor/physician owners view advertising and marketing as an expense, rather than an “investment” with an ROI (Return On Investment).
Walk-in primary care practices
Walk-in Clinics – with primary care services and some “urgent care” services spend $1000 to $3400 per month, with an average monthly budget of $1900 per month.
Primary care practices
Primary care doctors spend $600 to $1300 per month, with an average monthly budget of $890 per month.
Naturopathic, wellness focused care practices
Primary care doctors spend $800 to $1900 per month, with an average monthly budget of $1230 per month.
Pediatric care practices
The typical range is $600 to $1600 per month, spend on average spend $900 per month per location.
Sexual healthcare practices – multi-focus
The typical range is $3000 to $8500 per month, spend on average spend $4200 per month per location.
Sexual healthcare practices – Erectile Dysfunction
The typical range is $4000 to $10000 per month, spend on average spend $6700 per month per location.
Fertility healthcare practices
The typical range is $3300 to $7500 per month, spend on average spend $4700 per month per location.
Dental practices – General dentists
The typical range is $750 to 1900 per month, spend on average spend $1230 per month per location.
Dental practices – Specialist dentists
The typical range is $1300 to 3210 per month, spend on average spend $2540 per month per location. These type of practices include Endodontists, dental implant focus, Invisalign focus etc.
Dental practices – Celebrity & cosmetic focus
The typical range is $8300 to $18850 per month, spend on average spend $9600 per month per location. These type of practices include dentists who do not accept insurance, and accept limited amount of patients, but each patient is treated as a “celebrity” with extreme focus on customer service, and results for each patient. Services include invisalign, porcelain veneers, whitening, bonding, laminates, implants, and orthodontics.
Podiatrists – Foot and Ankle Doctors and Surgeons
The typical range is $800 to 2200 per month, spend on average spend $1655 per month per location.
The typical range is $800 to 1900 per month, spend on average spend $1380 per month per location.
Women’s Health and OB/GYN
The typical range is $500 to 2700 per month, spend on average spend $1600 per month per location.
Medical Fat loss / Physician Supervised Weight Loss Practices
The typical range is $2100 to 8700 per month, spend on average spend $4300 per month per location.
Integrative practices – Serving multiple focus areas
The typical range is $1200 to 3210 per month, spend on average spend $2341 per month per location. These type of practices include multiple focused areas, like heart health, general wellness, diabetic patients, mind – brain wellness, pain management, hormonal imbalance and many other areas. These type of practices have to compete with traditional non-integrative practices, so conversion cost per patient is higher than traditional primary care practices.
Sleep clinics and TMJ clinics
The typical range is $500 to 1580 per month, spend on average spend $940 per month per location.
Pain clinics – Chiropractors
The typical range is $1200 to 2200 per month, spend on average spend $1400 per month per location.
Pain clinics – Spine focused – minimally invasive pain management and regenerative medicine
The typical range is $1500 to 3000 per month, spend on average spend $1900 per month per location.
Physical therapy care practices
Physical therapy clinics have expanded into many areas and they offer services overlapping with other practices also. For example here is list of services for physical therapy practice : post-surgery rehabilitation, senior rehabilitation programs, work injury rehabilitation, back stabilization, balance training, functional capacity evaluations, neurological rehabilitation, orthopedic rehabilitation, pain management, physical therapy, wellness & weight loss program, vestibular sports medicine, graston technique, fitness program – So this can be quite large. Most clinics like these spend $1200 to $3400 per month, with an average monthly budget of $1900 per month, per location.
Data from 2018 to 2020. Also note that brands spend much more than non-brand focused medical practices, they also have more patients and perceived medical care provided is of higher value to patients, as evidenced by reviews received by the medical practices. The data is here for your guidelines and not guaranteed to generate same or similar results.
Healthcare Medical Marketing Influencers
Every physician, medical practice owner and administrator should understand that there are 5 important aspects shaping the healthcare and patient care in USA & Canada.
No. 1 Public health delivery systems – Shift from hospitals to individual clinics
No. 3 Drug development and technology impact – Time to develop and bring new medicine is decreasing. Supercomputers and bio-technology is helping humanity and bringing hope. New drugs, new ways of non-invasive robotics are changing the outcomes and shortening the recovery time of patients.
No. 4 Health Care and information technology impact – Information is no longer in silos – Internet specifically has made the information available to billions of patients across the globe.
No. 5 Health Care commercialization – Ability for physicians and healthcare providers to reach patients directly. More and more Physicians, Dentists, Surgeons, MedSpas, Pharma & Medical Practices are turning to online medical marketing to acquire more patients and provide timely services to patients.
6 Steps for Online Success For Clinics. Used By Telemedicine Physicians, Surgeons, Pediatrics, MedSpas, Pain Management, Functional Medicine, Primary & Urgent Care, Cardiologists, Podiatrists, Addiction Medicine, Regenerative, Wellness, Therapy, OBGYN, Integrative Medicine, Dentists, Dermatologists, IVF & Reproductive, Pharma, Bio-Tech & Many Other Medical Practices
Step No 1.
As medical practitioners, we have to realize that patient behavior is changing. Patients are now looking for medical services online. 88 percent of patients search online for medical services and clinic information. Even 47 percent of existing patients look for additional, related services online on your own website or your competitor’s websites. So you must be present on the Web. 60 percent to 72 percent of patients look for your services, check your online reviews, using a mobile device. Make sure that you have website that is focused on Mobile Marketing for doctors. Here are many examples of great ( and free Mobile, responsive and intelligent) websites. Once your medical practice is online, there are 5 additional important areas to cover.
Step No 2.
In US, approximately, 78 percent of the time, your patients are going to use Google search engine to look for medical related services, reviews and other information. So your first step is have a top notch Google presence. Other places are important also, like Facebook, Yahoo, Bing etc. But start with Google. There are 6 important aspects of Google presence.
- Google Local Listing for your medical practice
- Google Maps, verified listing
- Google Reviews rankings
- Google Posts
- Google Organic results
- Google Paid Search
Each of these should be addressed by your online strategy for your medical practice. Many doctors and practice managers think that having a nice looking website will suffice. Unfortunately it is no longer enough to have a nice website and a Facebook page.
Each of the above mentioned 6 important aspects of Google presence require attention to detail, time and commitment, not to mention financial investment.
Step No 3.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization for Doctors & Medical Practices can be defined in many ways. To provide you with a high level guidance, these 5 areas are most important:
A. Google Local Listing for your medical practice
- Create a Google account
- Add you clinic’s accurate information – Name, address are the most important information – Phone should be checked.
- If your practice’s information is incorrect, you will have correct it
- You may have to claim your listing also.
- In certain cases you may have duplicate listings, these should be resolved.
- There are dozens of other Local directories – They should be checked and updated. But Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo/bing are the most important ones. Start with these.
B. Google Maps, verified listing
- Create a Google account
- Add you clinic’s accurate information in the Maps
- If your practice’s information is in correct, you will have correct it – sometime the Map Pin is Inaccurate
- You may have to claim your Map listing also.
- In certain cases you may have duplicate listings, these should be resolved.
- There are many of other map based directories – They should be checked and updated. But Google, Map Quest, Apple Map are the most important.
C. Google Reviews rankings
- Create a Google account
- Check you reviews and ratings
- If your practice’s reviews are 4.5 and over 100 reviews on Google, then you are doing well. If less than this, you will need to focus on this area.
- Other important review sites are Yelp, Facebook and HealthGrades. But start with Google.
D. Google Posts
Posting on Google is a new way to share relevant, fresh content with the people who are searching for you. Use images, videos and even animated GIFs to engage your audience, and add inline links to drive traffic to specific content. This enhanced format allows searchers to hear directly from the primary source — you — and complements existing results from across the web. One important note the Google Posts expire every week. You have to post every week.
E. Google Organic results
Your content on your website is the most important factor on your website. Content refers to your text, headings, sub-headings, main paragraph, images, videos, blogs etc. Your website must contain non-copied, non-plagiarized content.
Step No 4.
Every year, billions of dollars are spent on online advertising. Very broadly, online advertising can be divided into 2 main categories:
- Display advertising
- Search advertising
As a doctor and a medical practice manager, both of these are important for you. You can acquire new patients using both of these mediums.
Display advertising is a type of online advertising that comes in several forms, including banner ads, rich media and more. Unlike text-based ads, display advertising relies on elements such as images, audio and video to communicate an advertising message. For example, if your potential patient is on Facebook and has recently clicked on or watched a video related to Breast Augmentation medical procedure and treatment, ads related this subject can be displayed to the potential patients. This is an example of display ads.
Search advertising is very common. Every time you are on Google and type a search term, lets say “Urgent Care near me”, Google search engine will usually display ads on the top of the web page. In the middle, there is a map, reviews and business listings, and at the bottom, there are organic or free search results. The advertisers pay a fee to display their ads in the top area. If a user clicks on any of the ads, the advertiser pays a fee for each “Click” This is called Pay-Per-Click advertising. For medical practices and doctors, this is very effective and creates excellent ROI. Google PPC ads produce excellent results, however it is complex and requires a professional to manage your campaign.
Step No 5.
Reviews marketing is another emerging area. Online reviews are impacting decisions of your prospect patients dramatically. This is one area that will make your medical clinic shine or impact negatively more than any other strategy. In fact it should not be a marketing strategy, it should be a necessity.
There are 4 ways to acquire positive reviews, and at the same time, minimize negative reviews. So your marketing strategy should be to minimize any negative reviews, and maximize positive reviews.
4 Ways to acquire online reviews
- Using Texting/SMS apps. A text is sent to a patient asking for feedback after a visit.
- Using Email apps. An Email is sent to a patient asking for feedback after a visit.
- Using an iPad in the lobby. A patient is asked to provide feedback right after the visit.
- Using Social Media or your Website. An app can be added to your business page on Facebook or your website, asking patients to provide feedback.
There is no quick and foolproof way do this “quickly”. There are pros and cons for each approach. Google and Yelp understand that businesses are striving to acquire more positive reviews and “bury” negative feedback, their algorithms are aware of SMS requests for reviews – and they are blocking reviews posted using SMS originated requests. Having an iPad in the lobby can cause block of IP Address and so on.
Step No 6.
Social Media Marketing is another very important aspect of your marketing. Your potential and existing are hanging around on Facebook. You have to make it easy for them to do business with you. Here are 5 steps.
5 Steps for Facebook Success for Doctors & Medical Practices
- Create Facebook Business Page for your medical practice.
- Optimize FacebookBusiness Page for your medical practice.
- Add apps to your FacebookBusiness Page for your medical practice. For example, add Contact Us app, add Appointment Requests app, add Promotions app.
- Add content to your FacebookBusiness Page for your medical practice
- Advertise your FacebookBusiness Page for your medical practice on Facebook – There are multiple ways to promote your FacebookBusiness Page for your medical practice. You can hire a professional ( recommended ) or do it yourself. Professionals who are certified advertising professionals will produce better results for you.
Summary for Online Success For Doctors
These 6 steps are proven to add value for hundreds of medical practices. There are many other steps you can take to further improve your strategy. Monthly Email Marketing is another strategy, among many others. Contact us so we can help you and view details GOLD package here.
PatientGain.com is a proven healthcare marketing solution, includes apps, websites, SEO, HIPAA compliance and account management.
To learn about How does healthcare marketing work?
To learn about What is the Foundation of Medical SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for Doctors
To learn about How SEO Works For Healthcare Websites, this is a good starting page.
To learn about Short-cut SEO for Medical Practices, this is a good starting page.
To learn about Pricing and cost of SEO services for medical practices, this is a good starting page.
To learn about How Much Do Doctors Spend On Advertising?
To learn about Medical SEO Voice Search Optimization For Doctors (BERT)
To learn about Local Medical SEO For Doctors
To learn about Mobile SEO For Medical Websites
To learn about Zero-Click SEO for Doctors
To learn about Benefits Of Medical SEO Marketing
To learn about Key Items For SEO Evaluation of Medical Websites
To learn about Avoid Risky Plans – Use Proven Medical Marketing Strategies
To learn about Medical Marketing Using Emotionally Compelling Offline Media
To learn about Pre Launch Medical Marketing Checklist for Doctors
To learn about Medical SEO vs. Medical Advertising – Which One Is Better?
To learn about Is Your Medical Website Design “Future Proof”?
To learn about Medical Website Conversion Strategies
To learn about Medical Website Content Marketing Strategy
To learn about How to Acquire New Patients for Your Medical Practice
To learn about Medical Website Applications
To learn about What is Technical Medical SEO?
To learn about How to Attract New Patients to Your Dental Practice
To learn about Dental SEO Examples
To learn about What is Medical Marketing Account Management?
The GOLD service from PatientGain is used by telemedicine physicians, dentists, surgeons, pediatrics, medical spas, pain management, functional medicine, primary & urgent care, cardiologists, podiatrists, addiction medicine, regenerative, wellness, therapy, OBGYN, integrative medicine, dentists, dermatologists, IVF & reproductive, pharma, bio-tech & many other medical practices.